1969 Chevy Camaro SS 396 - Super Freak

The More You Find Out About this SS396 Camaro, the More Freakishly Rare it Becomes

Stephen Kim Oct 1, 2012 0 Comment(s)

Despite the Camaro’s mighty fine current condition, it was rotted out beyond recognition before the restoration process began. Virtually every single panel needed replacement, and consequently, it was a project that would have been more trouble than it was worth under most circumstances. However, the car’s original, numbers-matching 82,000-mile big-block, Muncie M20 stick, and 12-bolt rearend made it a worthwhile endeavor. Gallo Restorations (gallorestorations.com) gets credit for painstakingly reassembling the Camaro to showroom condition. Likewise, Danny Kuzmicz (Vineland, New Jersey) freshened up the motor to stock specs by re-using the stock hardware when possible and opting for N.O.S. parts when replacements were needed. After taking ownership of the Camaro, Mac sent it off to Wade’s Rod and Custom (wadesrodandcustom.com) for some finishing touches, and a new factory-spec exhaust.

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In less than a year on the ISCA show circuit, the Camaro has racked up a plethora of Best Restored, Outstanding Restored, and Outstanding Detail awards. That includes Best Restored honors at the Grand National Roadster Show in Pomona. Oh yeah, it’s also a finalist for the Goodguys Musclecar of the Year award. Perhaps what Mac is most proud of is how the Camaro wows even the most demanding and particular of judges. “We took the car to the Camaro Nationals in Maryland to compete in the Legends class. Just to pre-qualify for the class, we had to get the car looked over by Jerry MacNeish, one of the foremost Camaro experts in the country,” Mac explains. “To earn ‘Legend’ status, the car got looked over by six judges for three hours. They scrutinized every inch of the car, and even took apart the carb, water pump, and alternator to check for the correct serial numbers. They judge on a 5,000-point scale, and the Camaro scored 4,650 to officially earn ‘Legend’ status.”

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For a hot rodder that’s developed a reputation for messing with every car that he’s owned, getting into the all-original game is a huge transition for Mac, and not everyone’s buying into it. “I am getting grief from all my buddies because I have hot rodded virtually every car I have owned, and they do not believe I can leave this Camaro as it is,” says Mac. “However, this one is different. Other than making it perfect in every detail, we are leaving it alone so people can enjoy this beautiful piece of history.” And even if you have a problem with show cars, everyone can appreciate this rare Camaro for what it is, and Mac’s effort to preserve a bona fide muscle car relic, blue painter’s tape be damned.

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“This is all new to me. I’m used to having a Second-place car, not a First-place car.” –Mac Bernd

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Tech Check

Owner: Mac and Shelley Bernd, Arlington, Texas Vehicle: 1969 Chevrolet Camaro SS


Type: Big-block Chevy

Displacement: 396 ci

Compression Ratio: 10.25:1

Bore: 4.094 inches

Stroke: 3.760 inches

Cylinder Heads: Factory GM oval-port castings

Rotating Assembly: Stock

Valvetrain: Factory GM lifters, rockers, springs, retainers, and locks

Camshaft: COMP hydraulic flat-tappet camshaft built to stock specifications

Induction: Stock cast-iron intake manifold, Rochester Quadrajet carb

Ignition: Factory distributor, coil, and plug wires

Exhaust: Stock exhaust manifolds, Gardner dual 2.25-inch mufflers

Output: 325 hp and 410 lb-ft


Transmission: Muncie wide-ratio M20 four-speed manual, stock clutch

Rear Axle: GM 12-bolt rearend with 3.07:1 gears and limited-slip differential


Steering: Factory GM box

Front Suspension: Stock

Rear Suspension: Stock

Brakes: Factory front discs and rear drums

Wheels & Tires

Wheels: Stock steel 14x7 front and rear

Tires: Goodyear Polyglass F70-14, front and rear


Seats: Factory houndstooth orange buckets

Carpet: GM black

Shifter: Stock


Paint: GM Hugger Orange

Hood: Factory SS


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